When is a custom solution the right choice?

Q: Why choosea custom application rather than an'Off-the-shelf' solution.

A: The answer really depends on your current situation and goals. Here are some pros and cons of the alternatives, which may help you decide which is the better way to go for your business.

Off-the-Shelf Solution (OSS)
Pros:
• Can be less expensive(see cons below).
Itmay be "turn-key"that is, capable of being immediately useful.
Available sooner. If most of your requirements will be met with the OSS, it may be possible to modify it to suit your needs faster than to start from scratch.

Cons:
• If you use the same software as others, you may need to leave your current business model behind or "work around" differences. Internal procedures and work flow may need to change drastically.
• You may be forced to buy more functionality than what you feel you need or can use, just to get some features which may fit your business needs.
• You may have to pay for extensive changes to "shoe-horn" it into your business -- these changes could cost more than starting from scratch.


Custom Solution
Pros:
• It will make your business easier to run. First, developing the requirements will help you better understand your business and second, it will help make youruniqueprocedures more uniform and consistent on a daily basis.
• It will make your business easier to sell, and more valuable, because you are encapsulating your business model with the custom system. When you sell, it will be more like a franchise sale rather than a customer list/inventory sale.
• All else being equal, your business model and business process is what makes you competitive; a custom system will not require fundamental changes to that model or process.
• Can be segmented into phases so that the system can earn its way to completion. Parts of the system can be put into place as they are completed, providing earlier payback.
• You will be starting with the latest available iteration of technology. The advantage to this goes beyond being able to offer you features not available in "canned" solutions designed and implemented with earlier versions of software. It ensures that your software will operate for the maximum amount of time before changes to computer hardware and software operating systems dictate upgrades to your operations application.

Cons:
• May be more expensive up-front.
• Will not be aninstantfix.
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